First Sunday after Chistmas Day Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 27 December 2009

Christmas 1C 27 December 2009 Textweek

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For many, Christmas is already over for another year. Of course there will be a few traditionalists who will keep the decorations up until the twelfth night. However, most people have now finished Christmas, and we too are going to be subject to the same cultural gravity that reduces Christmas to an event of celebration, rather than a process of creation.

The Gospel reading for today is really well chosen. It is the only Biblical narrative that refers to Jesus as a young boy. It’s unlikely, in fact it’s stunningly unlikely that it refers to an actual historical event; very unlikely that this is an occurrence in the life of Jesus. Rather it’s a deliberate inclusion in the Gospel, it’s a deliberate inclusion into the Good News, into the ancient teachings, and it echoes the Old Testament reading from I Samuel. It serves to remind us that birth is a beginning, it heralds a process of growth, a becoming, and it points towards the future.

The young Samuel ‘continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the LORD and with the people’. The young Jesus ‘increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour’. Both those narratives are located in the temple. The readings serve to give us an orientation and/or a reference point for the unfolding of creation that is birthed in our nativity. Both grew in favour with the Divine - with the Lord and with the people - humanity. An orientation of favour rather than status wealth, position, age. An orientation that parallels the primary revelation of the Divine: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself. Grow both in favour with the Divine and with all people: love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself. Grow – grow within the community of the temple.

This year Christmas somehow feels different; a number of people have commented on it. Every year, every day feels different, but there seems to be something that we are experiencing that is different, and perhaps that’s because we have visibly given birth to a new shape within the temple that is this community. We are building beyond the church; we are opening up the temple to the face of the rising sun/Son; we are creating a new space that looks towards the dawn of every morning. What will this child become?

When the St Paul’s community a hundred years ago put a temporary wall here, they intended to return. We have returned - stone upon stone we are changing the shape of the temple. And so too we might see that we too are changing, growing.

Soon, very soon we will once again feel the cultural force, the force of the world, inviting us to the new year, moving us with the addition of one from 2009 to 2010. As if the future was somehow a numerical accumulation, adding one every year. Perhaps this year, as we nurture that which we are birthing in this community, perhaps we might reflect on what or who is the one we might add, the one we might add to all that is past, in order to bring into reality the future that is born out of the nativity of Christmas.

We are the young Samuel; we are the young Jesus. What, who is the one that you will add to 2009 in order to create newness in 2010?

Peter Humphris